Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Just a Note

I got all Facebooky on the other blogs...oh but not here! You have to work to find this place!

Some terrific blog entries on some of the Christian blogs that need at least comment, or practice comments put over here. One is on money using John Wesley as a spring point (Make all you can Save all you can Give all you can..yeah that guy) and the other is about trying to have the "Hippest church on the block, from a WSJ article. Good stuff.

I actually get to go to Step Study tomorrow...now where did I put that workbook?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Nice, But Not the Same (Especially on Communion Sunday)

I just missed church for the first time since I started going to COR. Sucks to make a living at a job that needs help seven days a week. (Last time that will happen, Lord willing. And leave my freaking Wednesday evenings alone too!) Well, I did attend online, via the webcast.

Unfortunately I missed all the music, my favorite part of worship. And the video kept pausing. (At least the audio flowed well after the first minute.)

Definitely not as good as being there.

It did dawn on me that sometimes I can go to church and not be greeted or spoken to by anyone who is not obligated to speak to me, and so sitting in a coffee shop surrounded by strangers was not all that different than sitting in a church sanctuary surrounded by strangers...

I did miss the whole visual, and auditory experience. And I definitely missed the bread and the cup.

Missing church sucks.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Born Again

First, lyrics, of this really neat new song by Newsboys. Again, thanks to our stingy friends at EMI, the embed function is disabled, so here is the link to the video on YouTube.

Found myself looking into the mirror
Knew I wasn't who I wanted to be
I was living like the way that I wanted
But my eyes reminded me I'm not free
Believe that I saw, everything that I know
Says I gotta go, tired of going solo
But I'm never gonna go there again

This is what it is
This is who I am
This is where I finally take my stand
I didn't want to fall, but I don't have to crawl
I met the one with two scarred hands
Givin' him the best of, everything that's left of
The life inside this man
I've been Born Again

I see you're walking like you're living in fear
Having trouble even looking at me
Wishing that they give you more than words
Sick of people telling how it should be (how it should be)
What's your download, where'd you get your info
Saw that I'm show, now you're in the in-load
I'm gonna tell you what I believe, OH


We are the ones, he called by name
Never gonna look back
Let go, let go the guilt the shame
I said I'm never gonna look back
This is who I am

(Chorus 2x)

I am Born Again

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


I was reading a book from the $1 pile at Mardel's. You'd be surprised at what goodness can be snatched out of the remainder pile. The book is called Live to Tell by Brad J. Kallenberg. He's a professor at Dayton and works in campus Christian ministry. I'm not going to try to sum up the book, as I am still trying to "get it" but he had this fabulous quote. It's even more fabulous when seen through the prisms of these blog entries by John Meunier and Andrew Conard.
Thus the most liberal of churches appear able to maintain the best of relations with secular culture, but no longer have anything distinctive to say to it! Righteousness has been reduced to equality, agape has paled to fraternity, sin has been replaced with maladjustment, and salvation has become mere civility.
The failure of liberalism, then is not one of intent--Schleirmacher sincerely wished his friends to embrace Christianity--but one of strategy: by attempting to translated the gospel into terms understandable to the modern mind, the liberal wing of the church lost the farm. My fear is that the conservative wing of the church, for all its emphasis on missions, evangelism, and church growth, is simply reproducing an already deeply flawed strategy. (p. 52)
Often the liberal church has lost its distinctive. It's distinctive is God, in all His persons. I still look back to Paul telling the Corinthians--this is the second time I have found myself thinking of this Scripture--that preaching Christ was a stumbling block and an offense. Here's the passage, from 1 Corinthians 18-25.
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:
"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."

Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.

Not that we should be running around intentionally being offensive, but know that we preach Christ to sinful people who are not always ready to stop clinging to their sin, and they will throw up objections and be offended by the claims of Christ. This is all part of the process of evangelism. I have believed that evangelism is a process culminating in a crisis for a long time. Sometimes the process is short, and sometimes long. God is a patient God, not willing that any should perish, and He treats us like the individuals we are.

In the meantime, the church must never stop preaching the offense of God. We must keep our distinctive, otherwise the church becomes just another good civic organization. And we must keep up with our times, knowledgeable about the culture around us, but definitely different from it. Our biggest distinctive is love--the love of God that sent Christ to the Cross and empowers the Holy Spirit to guide and change lives. It must be shown to each other, as the Scripture instructs, and to the non believer.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Wesley Would Have Blogged and Tweeted

There is no doubt in my mind that John Wesley would have a blog, a Twitter account and a Facebook page, don't you think? But I also think that Wesley would have insisted that everyone come together face to face too. He would have used the social media as a tool, the same way he saw his field preaching back in the day, but never as a substitute for the community of the small groups that he and Charles formed.

There truly is no other way to reach maturity in Christ and aspire to Christian perfection without others encouraging, loving, rebuking, and praying for you along the way.

But Wesley would have been happy to use the social media to introduce you to the living Christ and the powerful Holy Spirit.


A great song and a great video. Check it, Inside, by Jared Anderson.

The Motions

There hasn't been near enough music around here lately...this song so speaks to me. Part of me wants to do the ultimate video, the other part of me wants to sing it loud from the stage. If I could get through it without crying...

Not the official video, as EMI disabled the embed (again :-P) but pretty darn good work by the poster.
Here are the lyrics:
This might hurt
It’s not safe
But I know that I’ve gotta make a change
I don’t care
If I break
At least I’ll be feeling something
‘Cause just ok
Is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of life

I don’t wanna go through the motions
I don’t wanna go one more day
Without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don’t wanna spend my whole life asking
What if I had given everything?
Instead of going through the motions

No regrets
Not this time
I’m gonna let my heart defeat my mind
Let Your love
Make me whole
I think I’m finally feeling something

Take me all the way
Take me all the way
Take me all the way

Not PC

Islam is a conquering religion. Islam does not tolerate non-muslims very well. Islam conquers at the point of the sword on a regular basis.

Jesus Christ is not very God and very man in Islam.

Christians cannot say that Islam is the same as Christianity--that is foolishness.

We preach Christ crucified and resurrected, an affront and a stumbling block.

Christians can love Muslims, but they cannot forget that Islam is wrong, just like JWs are wrong and Mormons are wrong.

I am so not PC on this. I am not sure I would ever put this on SKC Observer--I would be toast. But I believe it, just as I do believe that Jesus is the only sure way to Heaven. I do believe that God is generous and loving and will try to find a way to have Heaven open to as many as possible, but if you reject Jesus Christ and God you will find yourself on the other side--the bad side.

Yup, not PC.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Ithiel Falls Camp

OK, this is getting ridiculous. Ithiel Falls has a freaking Facebook page! But it's good to see the old place still going, the big meeting house still basically the same, most of the buildings still the same (from the photos) and one of the oldest, if not the oldest church "Camp Meetings" still going on. I made my total commitment to Christ in this place (yeah, that "entire sanctification" thing.) and had some wonderful times. There was one summer I got to spend overnight time at the camp--it was awesome to have the daytime, with the kids, and also not to feel the pressure to go home--and the bother of the drive--but just to soak in the atmosphere. Great memories, and times that I touch back to, to remind myself of what the Lord has done.

Photo is from that Facebook page.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

My s Aren't Workin (Neiter are my s.)

Every so often my computer decides to act oofy Te backspace button, te s te and te apostrope stop workin. It is not consistant, and sometimes it will fix itself, or fix wit a few tender pats on te bottom of te macine. Its really bad tonit and even after a reboot is still oin on. I decided to write a oofy post on SF to demonstrate wat a pain in te ass tis is.

I was ponderin a post on Obamas fait status, as tis as been a ot topic on talk radio all day, and I mit do it if I can stand tis wit te h's and the g's. (I can et tem if I old te key, ten release, ten pus aain. Argh!!!!)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Guest Post: The Indy Bike Hiker on Holiness

If I had to point to people who were instrumental in my spiritual development, this man would be one of them. He taught me to care about community in the context of the church, introduced me to Christian recovery principles, and preached and taught in extraordinary ways. He was my pastor for just one year, but his ministry to me has lasted much longer than a year. During his one year at the church he was under tremendous personal stress from many things in his own life and life history. I can't go into details much, but that year, and the next few were pivotal in his life. Despite all the changes and challenges, God continued to use this talented man in His service, to draw people to him.

I hope to meet my friend John again sometime on this side of Heaven, if nothing else but to thank him. Here's John on Wesleyanism's cardinal doctrine, Holiness or Christian Perfection.


Instead of hardcore doctrine in legalese, holiness seems to me more like art

TRYING HARD TO BE HOLY. I grew up with lots of preaching about being holy. Holiness was not something left to God or saints of the past. It was pressed upon us as a spiritual state and behavior that is possible, expected, and normal in life—here and now. According to the doctrine, anything less than living to the glory of God—that is, living to please only God with integrity, honesty, love for all, and in avoidance of sin—was abnormal. It was to make us holy and to make holy living normal that Jesus Christ was born, crucified and resurrected, we were told. And the folks in our church and circles tried hard to be holy. They took it very seriously and their seriousness often translated into stifling sternness, rigidity, misplaced judgment, and an obsession for perfection.

INVITING SONG. I have since thought that the value of holiness teaching is not missed at the point of attempting, but at the point of the heaviness most attempting foments. One of the scriptures we were frequently quoted was, “Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness” (Psalm 96:9). That oft-repeated verse, and others like it, came off like a heavy-handed warning, like a command that thundered from above. But, in fact, the phrase is taken from poetry. It is one line of an exuberant, inviting song. Even the phrase “beauty of holiness” suggests something very different from the stifling and restricting context out of which holiness was preached.

LEGALESE OR POETRY? “The beauty of holiness.” What an interesting phrase. It sounds like a work of art by the mind and hand of an artist. Could it be that holiness is not the domain of miter-hatted teachers, nor the terrain of linear-thinking dogmatists, but the milieu of heart-longing, soul-searching artists? Is holiness the language of legalese or the tongue of poetry? Is it historical genre or avant-garde? Is holiness best defined or described? Is it requirement or reflection?

IMAGINATION AND PLAYFULNESS. As a doctrine, holiness lacks imagination and playfulness. It is heavy and solemn when it might be light and whimsical. If one would be holy, contemplate the actions and attributes of the Holy One. The first act of God is to create. A mere walk in the woods reveals that God is first of all creative with a diversity beyond our wildest imaginations. If God is holy, then holiness includes beauty, creativity, imagination, variety, humor, music-making, dance and drama. God is jester in God’s own court.

UNCAPTURED CREATEDNESS. The saints in my childhood church were led to believe their goodness rested in their assent to holiness doctrine and the suspicion-guided restrictions by which they abided. But I believe their goodness rested in their createdness and the part of their being no doctrine can capture. For all their austerity and solemnity, they could not help but occasionally be playful and exuberant. Grace breaks through even to those who do their best to douse it.

MAKING THE CASE. To me, the most compelling case for living in reflection of the holiness of God is found in the music of holiness folk. Songs reflecting heart-felt experiences of sojourners linger with the soul long after preaching is forgotten and doctrinal dictums dismissed. Wesleyan songs sing spiritedly and in amazement of a grace that reaches deeper than the stain of sin has gone. They reflect hope for hurting, longing hearts—hope that realizes its source and fulfillment in the mercy and grace of God in Christ. So, Charles Wesley sings:

Plenteous grace with Thee is found,

Grace to cover all my sin.

Let the healing streams abound;

Make me and keep me pure within.

Thou of life the Fountain art;

Freely let me take of Thee.

Spring Thou up within my heart;

Rise to all eternity.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Why I Completely Understand Steven Slater--and Pray for Him

Steven Slater was a flight attendant on the cut rate airline JetBlue who has had his 15 minutes now for the fit he threw last Monday at JFK. More details have come out, some of which cast Mr. Slater in a less heroic light. Some have said he was irritated all flight, some have said he was drinking during the flight. Yada yada. And now, he would like to have a job as a flight attendant again.

As I said on my post on Observer, this is not a man who hated his job IMO. By and large, I imagine he really liked his job most days. But this obviously was not "most days." His father had died in the recent past. His mother had cancer and/or ALS--I saw both--sometimes the news is like a giant game of "telephone." He was divorced. It looks like he was gay. He did have some sort of S.O. relationship, but how tight that is is unknown, whether it went beyond being a casual acquaintance and sex partner to a good deep monogamous relationship that really gave support. There was the presence of recovery lingo on his My Space page and some indication from friends and relatives that alcohol had been an issue at times. He had worked in the airline industry since 1990--with occasional breaks but always finding his way back onto airplanes. It's obvious it was--it is--in his blood, but then...this.

It cuts deep, it does. That one moment when your decision making functions are overridden by...something and stuff comes out of your mouth, rolls off your tongue, and maybe it feels good at the time, seems cool and all...and then you realize that that shit is not gonna fly with the powers that be, and it's either obvious, or some clown comes flying out of the woodwork with accusations all bundled up against you, and you have no real defense other than it was not one of your better days and...the thing you loved is taken away from you, you can't do it any more because of these stupid things you said and/or did and you feel like the biggest doofus in the fucking world...

Yes, that's you Steven Slater. And that's me, The Observer, RN.

You know what our mistakes were, Mr. Slater? Trying this living stuff solo. It cannot be done. Humans are made to live in community, with others touching us on a regular basis. We can try to substitute stuff. Work. Drugs. Alcohol. Sex. Hobbies. But really, we are designed to live with two things in our lives.

Each other. God.

We can't carry the load of lost parents and lost loves, lost opportunities and lost wishes, and all the other "losts" that come our way without being a part of others' lives. And they parts of our lives. I don't know Mr. Slater's spiritual situation. But being a Christian does not remove this need. If anything, it makes it more obvious, brings it out in bold relief.

And now, Mr. Slater, you are praying that there is one airline out there willing to give you a chance. Because you have learned, or are learning, that you cannot fly life solo. The only problem is the lesson came at the cost of something so dear to you. The work you love. The security of a regular paycheck. The ability to live life without worrying about your daily bread and the freedom to give from your blessing.

I wish you every opportunity to gain that second chance. Because I've been looking for mine, really, since 2001. That's how long it's been since I had a "regular" job. When I saw your story, one of my very first thoughts was "I hope he doesn't change his mind about abandoning the work of a flight attendant. Because it will be very difficult for him to find a new job."

Can you forgive yourself for throwing it all away?

This post has just stunned me. I wrote it the way I write all my blog posts: I have a general idea of where I want to go, but I don't plan it out. I just start writing and see what happens. Sometimes it's a straight line. Sometimes a crooked line. Sometimes, it feels like I am handling TNT, like the post rebutting Lewis Duigiud. Sometimes it ends up someplace completely different than where I was headed.

And sometimes, it's a bombshell. This is the sort of thing I was thinking of when I started this blog. This that I don't want the whole world to see, but the few who have this url, I don't fear them. A lot of them are CR people, and if they read this, they understand.

My emotional behavior has hurt my career terribly. There is no doubt about that. I have repented, worked and learned from every incident.

Have I forgiven myself? For VA, 2008? For Trinity, 2001?

A very good question.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

This Man

Thank God for Google. When you hear a neat song on the radio, and they don't tell you who did it, Google can find it.

This song reminds us about the Cross of Christ--what it cost Him and what it did for us.

You'll have to settle for a link, since EMI disabled the embedding. :-P

Here are the words:
This Man lyrics

In only a moment truth
Was seen revealed this mystery
The crown that showed no dignity he wore
And the king was placed for all the world
To show disgrace but only beauty flowed from this place

Would you take the place of this man
Would you take the nails from his hands
Would you take the place of this man
Would you take the nails from his hands

He held the weight of impurity
The father would not see
The reasons had finally come to be to
Show the depth of his grace flowed with
Every sin erased he knew that this was
Why he came

Would you take the place of this man
Would you take the nails from his hands
Would you take the place of this man
Would you take the nails from his hands

And we just don't know the blood and
Water flowed and in it all
He showes just how much he cares
And the veil was torn so we could have
This open door and all these things have
Finally been complete

Would you take the place of this man
Would you take the nails from his hands
Would you take the place of this man
Would you take the nails from his hands
From his hands
From his hands
From his hands
From his hands
From his hands

Do I Want to Take It Back? No, But...

The post before seems unduly harsh to others now that I read it again. I think I reacted out of my disappointment in losing something I truly enjoyed, that truly blessed me. I visited with S. tonight, and she too is disappointed but she was telling me about one of the guests coming and how neat he was and how much we'd get from him.

So, we guard those weekends, and trust the Lord to show the other ways to fellowship. And we be a little easier on our fellow pilgrims on the way to Glory with us...

That whole plank/speck thing comes to mind, too!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Yes, Disappointed

Well, there will be no every Sunday praise choir this year. Apparently, enough people fed back to Alison et al that they couldn't/had trouble with/whatever pissy excuse they had make it every Sunday evening. (And tell us how you really feel!) So we only get to sing five Sundays over the course of the year. Oh, but we'll have guest conductors, and get to be leaders in the worship service--yada yada yada. Here's the scoop from the email:

That said, though, we do have news for you! We have been doing a lot of reflecting and praying over the past year about Encore, trying to discern how to make the group most effective in service to the church, especially in our contemporary worship services. And then we have also been trying to find how to make it most accessible and meaningful to everyone who serves in the group. From surveys, and attendance, and conversations with numerous choir members, it sounds as though the every-week model we’ve had the past two years has quite simply been a little more than most of our folks can commit to. For some, this has not been the case, and we have been so grateful and encouraged by the folks who have been so faithful in showing up regularly. But overall, we still have a large number of people interested in getting involved who would love to be involved, but feel hesitant about just showing up every once in awhile when their schedules allow.

We have also had many people express an interest in learning/presenting some more offertories or “word-in-songs” in the services, in addition to the worship songs. And with our 4:15pm model, there just didn’t seem to be time to get that accomplished.

SO, after much thought and prayer, we have decided to try something new this year. And we are really excited about it!

In short, for the next year, Encore will be turning into a special-event choir. Instead of singing every weekend, Encore will be singing in worship 5 times over the next year. But on those 5 weekends, Encore will be the primary musical and worship-leading focus. The group will lead the worship songs, and sing a special or two. And then the really exciting part is that we will be bringing in some amazing guest conductors to lead you!! I’m still pinching myself to believe that every person we asked was able to commit. Here is the lineup:

• October 16/17 – Pop/Gospel Style – Scott & Vonda Dyer (Former worship leaders at Willow Creek who lead amazing vocal coaching seminars all over the world – you’ll learn a ton!)
• December – Dramatic Advent Songs – TBA (We will be singing some powerful, dramatic songs to tell of Christ’s coming)
• February – Southern Gospel – Eph Ehly (Former choral professor from UMKC, who is probably the most-loved state choir and college choir director ever. Lance and I have both had the privilege of working with him in various choirs in our life, and can’t think of a more inspiring, engaging, and extraordinarily talented director to work with. Thrilled to have him coming!)
• April – Urban Gospel – Randall Fears (Music minister at Memorial Missionary Baptist Church in Kansas City, and a gifted worship leader, songwriter, recording artist, and gospel choir director. He will have you singing like you’ve never sung before! We are hoping to have his and our choirs collaborate this weekend too – will be incredible!)
• July – Pop/Rock – TBA (We will be bringing in an artist who’s presenting at the National Worship Leader Conference next summer, and plan to invite all of our choirs to join with them in worship the weekend before the conference.)

For each weekend that we sing, we will have an all-afternoon Saturday rehearsal (likely from 1-5pm) to learn the music. And then in October/December, we will be presenting the songs in the two contemporary services. We will be sending out a calendar of specific dates very soon so that you can add those to your calendar.

So now each weekend there is choir it is a more intense time commitment during that weekend. Too bad if you have an unmovable commitment that weekend! That was one of the charms of this for me. It was not dependent on a schedule. If you could come, you came, and had a great time. If not, then try again next week. I almost would rather they had scrapped the whole thing then come up with this half assed solution for people's weak excuses and guilty consciences! :-P

And that is the way I feel about it!!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

I Dislike This Time of Year

Well, it's August. I do not like this time of year very much. It's hot. It's humid. In spite of that, the days are getting shorter. It's my version of SAD. Once fall comes, even though it has less light and that light is not as strong, I'll feel energized for a while. Not until the hard core winter weather comes will the weather be a negative on my mood.

The job hunt has stalled. This is not good. I need good reliable work. I was very cross with myself for screwing up a recruiting picnic at St. Very Near, as it required an RSVP two weeks before. I don't remember if I read that on the postcard or note. No excuse--should have looked at the card before the event.

I've had more trouble getting up and out of the house in the past week than in all the months
prior. I've conceded, and I'm leaving the AC on all day.

In 2000, I went to Vermont to be with family during surgery. After that, I tried to go in the summer. It helped to break the back of this miserable time of year. If I had the money, I'd go now. Right now. Tomorrow, if possible.

Excessive heat warnings have been posted through Wednesday. YUCK!

September, hurry up!!!

Congregational Care Ministers

People were invited tonight to apply to become Congregational Care Ministers at COR. I just peeked at the requirements, and I can't do it, as you have to be a member. Even if I joined tomorrow, I couldn't do it, as you have to be a member for three years! Yikes. But if this is something I feel the Lord leading me to do, then the big membership shift is the first step. Need to be praying about this. Even though I couldn't do it, I read through the whole thing. There is an educational component--you have to take a couple classes and seminars at St. Paul's, and you had to have one of the Disciple classes at the church too. At the end, there's this covenant statement, including this bit. It's pretty cool. You know, I could get with a church that believes this!

The Faith and Character of a United Methodist

The Church of the Resurrection is a United Methodist Church. We expect our leaders to honor our denominational heritage and to pursue ministry in keeping with our tradition. United Methodists are people who seek to love and serve God with our head, our heart and our hands. They are
orthodox in faith, liberal in spirit, passionate and deeply devoted to Christ, and desire to be wholly surrendered to God.
They bring together both the evangelical and social gospel – inviting people to a life-transforming relationship with Jesus Christ, and then equipping and challenging them to live their faith in the public sphere, being engaged in the issues of our time and seeking to shape a world that looks more like the Kingdom of God. Methodists have been known as “reasonable enthusiasts” – valuing both a personal, passionate faith and one that is intellectually informed.
Methodists are constantly looking to connect our faith to the world in meaningful, relevant ways. Methodists value spiritual disciplines and a “methodical” approach to growing in the faith. They strive for both personal holiness and social holiness.
United Methodists are not afraid to ask difficult questions, to take on tough subjects, and to admit that they do not always understand the answers. They are “people of the Book” - holding the Bible to be the inspired Word from God and encouraging people to read, study and live by its words. “While we acknowledge the primacy of Scripture in theological reflection, our attempts to grasp its meaning always involve experience, tradition and reason. Like Scripture, these become creative vehicles of the Holy Spirit as they function within the church.”1 Methodists also believe the Bible came to us through people who heard God’s Word in the light of their own cultural and historical circumstances. And hence, they study the scriptures carefully, making use of scholarship and asking critical questions.
And, as Methodists encounter theological differences amongst Christians, they bear in mind John Wesley’s approach, “in essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”2
Methodists are people who love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength, and love their neighbors. They pursue acts of piety toward God and acts of mercy toward others. They value passionate worship, relevant preaching, small groups to hold Christians accountable to one another, the need to address the social issues of our time, and the need to be people whose faith is firmly rooted in and built upon the scriptures. Methodists value the full participation of women and men, people of all races, classes and backgrounds in all facets of fellowship and leadership within the
church and society.

This is our heritage, and it continues to shape the Church of the Resurrection in every area of our ministry.

We might just start this party by doing one of the Disciple classes, if I can fit it in somewhere. Praying about it more is needed--don't want to react emotionally to a need that is inside of me--but to minister to others out of my strength--the strength of my gifts, graces, real compassion, and talents--not to patch the weakness of my needs.

Wendy Chrostek

Snapped this during the last class of Methodism 101. Something about a lady on the platform, er, in the Chancel...


None But Jesus

This is a slow, meditative song. It is a song of reassurance and affirmation. Just what I needed tonight.

(Extra bonus: You get some Dutch...)

None But Jesus lyrics
Songwriters: Fraser, Brooke;

In the quiet, in the stillness
I know that You are God
In the secret of Your presence
I know there I am restored

When You call I won't refuse
Each new day again I'll choose

There is no one else for me
None but Jesus
Crucified to set me free
Now I live to bring Him praise

In the chaos, in confusion
I know You're sovereign still

In the moment of my weakness
You give me grace to do Your will

So when You call I won't delay
This my song through all my days

There is no one else for me
None but Jesus
Crucified to set me free
Now I live to bring Him praise

All my delight is in You, Lord
All of my hope, all of my strength
All my delight is in You, Lord, forevermore

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tender Mercies

The movie Tender Mercies popped up last week during step study.

There's a scene--it's relatively late in the movie. Robert Duval's character, Mac Sledge is poking at the nasty soil with a hoe. He begins to riff on life. As another blogger, Captain Critic put it so well.
This leads to perhaps the most important scene in the movie, with Mac tending a small garden he has planted across the street from the motel. Beresford shoots naturalistically, almost documentary style, in long shot with a long take with no cuts or close-ups. You can't even see Duvall's face underneath his wide-brimmed hat in the slanting sun. But the pain and power of the scene just spill out over that spare Texas landscape. "I don't trust happiness; never have, never will," Mac confesses.

Despite its negative tone, I love this scene. Life is not always happy frou-frou. It's learning to deal with the ups and downs too. In fact, if your faith doesn't help you with this, then it's not very useful now, is it. I referred to this scene when answering one of the questions at step study.

Time to watch this movie again. Perhaps I'll be back later with the exact dialog and a screen shot or two.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

One Word--Go!

kyped from internet--from 2009's GA in Florida.

If you ever get a chance to go to a confab in your denomination that is bigger than your immediate local area, GO! I had the opportunity to go to the General Assembly of the Church of the Nazarene in 1993, and it just blew me away. Just the sight of all those people who believe as you do all in one place is enough of a blow away, but when you realize they are coming from the four corners of the world, and our amazing God has reached them there, and loved them and saved them, well, it's almost overwhelming.

I looked and looked on the internets for the "perfect" General Assembly picture. I don't think there is one. I have over 100 pictures from 1993. I cannot even imagine how many I would have if the digital option was available back then!

Is This Even Possible?

This is the daughter of the pastor of the church I got saved in, and her husband and their kids. I found this by accident while looking for images of Nazarene General Assembly. He is a pastor of a Nazarene church and has a blog http://kevinhardy.typepad.com/. Looking at this picture, I am totally, "NO WAY!" but I know this to be very possible, as she was just in high school when I started to the church. (I think that's right--if not, just very first college years...)

I remember when Kevin preached his first sermon--he's very fair, and his ears and the nape of his neck turned bright red. He would be embarrassed at that memory maybe! He is very bright and you could tell he would make a good pastor. No one was surprised that he felt God calling him to ministry. He and his family did come out here to KC for about a month or two back about '93 or '94, before moving back east, feeling that this was not where they were to be.

The internet is just full of surprises!!!!

It's a Privilege, Not an Obligation!

Today was the last class in "Methodism 101" and our concentration was on matters of church polity. Now, I will tell you that The Church of the Nazarene, of whom I am still a member, stole liberally from the Methodist polity. Nazarene polity is simpler and more representative in general, with at least one less layer of government. Another difference is in the matter of choosing pastors. But I am not here to talk about that. I am here to talk about one of the similarities.

The United Methodist Church gives "apportionments" to its churches--amounts of money that local church is responsible to give to the general church (I suppose the correct Methodist term would be General Conference) for missions, education, relief, etc.

[Naz Note: A "budget" by any other name is still a "budget"!]

Here's the thing: Rev. Wendy Chrostek reminded everyone that the local church is not some solo operation on the corner. That the local church, like COR or any other UM church is part of the entire world, and as such, has the opportunity to reach out to the wider world through the apportionments. She put it in such good words that my note taking failed me, because I was so blessed. If we can get people to catch this vision--this idea that money you give in Grandview, Missouri or Wolcott, Vermont, or Leawood, Kansas can bless people on the other side of the world--then meeting these giving goals would be much easier. I always liked what we had started doing in Grandview in the latter years of Pastor Severson's time: we set aside 10% of monies received to use to fulfill the budget obligations. I was glad to take this step of faith--and it was faith when you know the electric bill is due!

In the end, it is a privilege to be a part of paying these apportionments or budgets. It's a way of being part of reaching around the country and around the world. Churches (and boards and pastors) often look at them as an obligation to be filled. Better to look at them as an opportunity to take advantage of--an opportunity to educate young people, bring food to the hungry, and the gospel of Jesus Christ to those who have not yet heard or those who need teaching, loving and discipling in other parts of our country and the world.

Remembrance (Communion Song)

I saw it coming, as we were to the last of the three rules. 1. Do no harm 2. Do good. 3. Stay in love with God. The strongest act of worship in the Christian faith is Holy Communion. No matter your theology of communion, no matter your denominational affiliation, Holy Communion is something that all Christian believers have in common. The Communion Table stretches back 2000 years, to the night before His betrayal when Jesus took the Bread and the Cup in His hands and told the disciples, "Take and eat; this is my body." Communion is something that Christians can do over and over, as celebration, as worship, as a time for self examination, as a place to gain strength in the faith, as an act of remembering what Jesus Christ did for us on the Cross.
The synoptic gospel writers all recorded that very first Communion service:
Matthew 26:
26While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body." 27Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. 28This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom."
Mark 14:
22While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take it; this is my body." 23Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it. 24"This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many," he said to them. 25"I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God."
Luke 22:
19And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." 20In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. 21But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. 22The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed, but woe to that man who betrays him."
In his gospel, John adds a few more layers of meaning. From John 6:
53Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever."
Paul, in his letter to the church at Corinth, had to review what the ritual of the Bread and the Cup meant. The Corinthians were struggling with many issues surrounding their worship, not the least of which was the way the congregation was "eating the last supper." You can find Paul's thoughts in 1 Corinthians 10 and 11. In chapter 11, Paul walks the church again through the history of the love feast of bread and wine:
23For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." 25In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." 26For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. 27Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. 29For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment.
Finally, a word from Webster's.
Main Entry: com·mu·nion
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Latin communion-, communio mutual participation, from communis. [The same roots give us words like community and communication.]
1 : an act or instance of sharing.
2 a capitalized : a Christian sacrament in which consecrated bread and wine are consumed as memorials of Christ's death or as symbols for the realization of a spiritual union between Christ and communicant or as the body and blood of Christ b : the act of receiving Communion c capitalized : the part of a Communion service in which the sacrament is received
3 : intimate fellowship or rapport
4 : a body of Christians having a common faith and discipline.

Well, that turned into quite the little study, all in order to get to this wonderful song of worship written by Matt Redman. This is Matt Maher's version: